Saskatchewan mayors call for provincial government to review affordable housing programs

Saskatchewan’s city mayors are banding together to call on the provincial government to review the Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS) program and the Social Housing Program.

In a press release, the mayor of Lloydminster, Sask., said these programs are supposed to help their residents in need.

Read more: Legislature hears more complaints about Saskatchewan Income Support

“We continue to see individuals struggle to either pay their rent or gain access to affordable social housing. This is unacceptable,” said Aalbers, who is also the chair of SUMA’s City Mayors’ Caucus.

“Homelessness creates significant public safety concerns for both those experiencing it and our communities as a whole.”

Last year, the Saskatchewan government made a change to the SIS program where rental payments were provided directly to the recipients instead of the landlords.

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Concerns grew calls for change as the province reinstated direct payments for some clients, but inconsistency with the program continues to be a barrier for those in need. Aalbers stated the cost of living is rising, and the SIS program is not meeting the essential needs of those who rely on it.

“Rent within the province has increased 10 to 15 per cent and both Crown utility corporations have raised their rates, while a single adult in Regina or Saskatoon only receives $600 per month for shelter and utilities,” he said.

Read more: Housing advocates march through Regina demanding increase to social assistance rates

According to the release, there are more than 3,000 affordable housing units that sit vacant throughout the province, something about which mayors expressed their concerns.

“Affordable housing units should not be sitting vacant when we know there is a need for affordable and stable accommodations, ” said Aalbers.

“The Social Housing Program, specifically housing criteria and maintenance, needs to be reviewed to ensure that these housing units are being utilized.”

Concerns were discussed at a recent City Mayors’ Caucus on Nov. 24 in Regina.

Click to play video: 'Legislature hears more complaints about Saskatchewan Income Support'

Legislature hears more complaints about Saskatchewan Income Support

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